Sun Cty Girls – “Horse Cock Phepner”: revisiting this 1987 classic in light of the recent passing of Charles Gocher (R.I.P.) serves as a reminder of why SCG have no peers in the music world… with the occassional exception of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. they threw just about every oddball musical niche you can think of – surf punk, world musics, avant-whatever, free-improv, etc – into a chaotic stew that felt like it could boil over at any minute. on this particular album, the vulgarity combined with political commentary reached new heights not just for the band, but in general, with lyrical content that would make both the Dead Kennedys and the Dayglo Abortions proud. this stands beside “Kaliflower”, “Torch of the Mystics” and the self-titled first LP as one of the top albums of their ridiculously prolific career.
Sigh – “Scenario IV (Dead Dreams)”: with Sigh having been one of my favorite black-metal bands since I first heard their classic “Infidel Art” in the mid-90s, I was compelled to return to them again to see what they had offered on later efforts. listening to “Scenario…” has re-affirmed my former opinion of them. I had always enjoyed their sense of adventurousness when compared to the majority of their brethren and this album amply demonstrates those same tendencies. amidst the standard black metal sound herein, one also hears the incorporation of keyboards (without the lame “gothic-aria” trappings that so many of todays BM bands fall into), jazz piano, funk breakdowns and other soundtrack-worthy material. with black metal becoming an increasingly repetetive and overcrowded genre, its contenders might do well to look back to Sigh for a perfect example of how to elevate the genre above its trappings and keep it interesting.
Radar – “Easy Listening”: why is it that the Japanese seem to improve on virtually every facet of north amaerican culture? I avoided this album for a while because it’s essentially a jazz album, and I am very particular when it comes to jazz. sometimes one instrument can ruin an otherwise enjoyable jazz album for me. listening to this album made me realize that that instrument is drums. I realized it when I found myself liking this a lot and then noticed that there wasn’t any drumming on any of the songs. at all. a quick check revealed the instrumentation to be soprano sax, bass and piano. and for some reason I breathed a huge sigh of relief. a very enjoyable, sometimes relaxing effort in a genre that often doesn’t do much for me.
Camberwell Now – “All’s Well”: a discograpy of everything this band ever released. Camberwell Now is the band that Charles Hayward was in after the demise of his former band, the now-legendary This Heat. and ironically enough, it can pretty much be seen as a natural extension of This Heat, sounding in a lot of ways like what they would have done if they had continued on for longer. thing is though, This Heat are hit-and-miss for my tastes – I love the entirety of “Deceit” and their self-titled album has a few amazing tracks… but quite often, they swayed a little too much to the side of experimentation at the expense of anything song-like. on the flipside, Camberwell Now pretty much did the exact opposite. the majority of the songs here, while having that not-quite-post-punk, not-quite-prog feel to the majority of them, are just that: actual songs. you know, the kind that stick in your head and keep you humming them after they’re over. it’s a tricky balance that not many bands manage to strike – keeping experimental elements in the context of something that’s still enjoyable to listen to. many of todays bands would do well to look back to Camberwell Now for an example of how to do it right.
Siloah – s/t: kind of an anomally in the “krautrock” lexicon. stylistically, Siloah were a lot more folk-driven than most of their contemporaries. which is not to say that they didn’t have a good dose of psychedelia along with it. the only comparison that really comes to mind is early Amon Düül, on their own earlier efforts like “Paradieswärts Düül” where there was a barely-held-together, edge-of-chaos vibe born of massive jam sessions. Siloah reigned in the chaos ever so slightly more than A.D. did, which makes for a more enjoyable listen overall. not really essential to the casual krautrock peruser, but those whose interest runs deeper than the more reckognized names should not pass this band over.
Mermen – “Food for Other Fish”: a true oddity among the 90s surf-rock revival bands, the Mermen left the impression that they were never really trying to revive the style to begin with. there are certainly “surf” aspects to their sound – mainly, the clean tight-reverb/slapback guitar tone – but the drums and bass, as well as additional effect-embelishments on the guitar, went way beyond the trappings of surf-rock, veering quite far into pure psychedelic territory as well. this album saw the light of day in 1994 and frankly, no other band I’ve heard has sounded quite like them since then.
Marnie Stern – “In Advance of the Broken Arm”: ok, I’ll admit it. in spite of my overall dislike for their hipster-windbag pontification, I read the reviews on Pitchfork. occassionally (though increasingly rarely of late) I do get turned on to some good music that would not have crossed my path otherwise. as was the case with this album. anyway, enough preamble. but suffice to say, if anyone had told me there was a female musician out there who operates in the same style as the likes of Mick Barr, Hella or… well, math rock in general, I would have been a… what’s that biblical term?… ah, yes. a doubting thomas. so to speak. so, hear it I did. and WOW. considering Hella‘s Zach Hill contributes his percussive skills to this melee; a comparison to his other efforts, though obvious, is inescapable. but also really only half the picture. I mean, it’s really no wonder Pitchfork liked this so much since vocally Marnie is, as the ‘fork also claimed, more than a a little reminiscent of Deerhoof‘s Satomi Matsuzaki. and that’s pretty much exactly what this album sounds like: a cross between Deerhoof‘s off-kilter no-wavish pop and Hella‘s math jams. maybe not as unlikely a combination as one would think given the relative popularity of both lately. but given my own fondness for both styles, this is one of those albums I’m going to end up loving even if people I think are idiots also end up liking it.
Psyopus – “Our Puzzling Encounters Considered”: fuck, why can’t there be more bands like these guys? this is pretty much tech-grind, tech-metal, whatever you want to call it, at it’s finest. I thought Car Bomb were raising the bar for this style, but Psyopus even puts them to shame here (which is not to detract from Car Bomb‘s own excellence). after reading an interview with the band in a recent issue of Decibel mag where they talked about having trouble getting people to come out to shows, I’m baffled as to why that would be. I know I’m starting to sound my age, but that just shows that kids these days just don’t know good music when it kicks them in the ass like this album does. though I doubt they’ll be playing anywhere near me anytime soon, I’d be there at the drop of a hat if Psyopus played a local show. and yes, I did download this but don’t worry – I had pretty much planned to buy the CD as soon as I read that interview. hearing it ahead of purchase just reaffirmed the need to do so sooner rather than later.
Liars – “They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top”: having never heard Liars prior to last years amazing “Drum’s Not Dead”, I finally decided it was time to pursue their back catalog. I’m glad I dug this one up. while not bearing a lot of similarity to “Drums…” this is nonetheless an excellent slab of new-millenium post-punk. hearing the guitar tone initially made me fear run-of-the-mill emo, but the actual songwriting along with the bass work shot that theory to hell quickly enough. I want to give them some more listens and perhaps check out other releases as well, but I daresay Liars may soon be climbing onto my “favorite bands” list.
Magic Carpet – s/t: knowing abosultely nothing about this band or album going into it, I grabbed it pretty much because the guy I got it from had it in with a bunch of other rare psych bands/albums I did reckognize. turns out to be a pleasant surprise – female fronted acoustic psych (I hesitate to say folk, but…) accompanied by tabla and sitar, which gives it a unique feel compared to other similar albums of it’s era. it even comes close to reminding me of Espers, though obviously that should really be stated the other way around. I’d recommend this to anyone who looks for truly relaxing music without wanting to fall back on silliness like new age or even ambient.
Always August – “Largeness with (W)holes”: another oldie-but-goodie here from one of the most appropriately-named bands to ever exist. seriously – despite the fact that it’s mainly clean-guitar, relatively straight-forward psych rock; there’s something about this band that will make you feel like it is indeed the middle of summer while you listen. not much else to say, really… except that a lot of people who would appreciate this band probably never discovered them for the simple fact that most (all?) of their albums came out on SST records – a label that did branch out in more bizarre directions later in life, but was mainly known as a birthing ground for American punk- and noise-rock.
Bug Sized Mind – “The Spider and the Fly”: solo efforts from the other half of Wizardzz, whose “Hidden City of Taurmond” was one of my favorite releases of last year. this is pretty much solo keyboard/laptop material and while I wouldn’t call it pure noise per se, it’s not all that far removed. while there are no percussive sounds as such, it’s not entirely without rhythm either. in fact, the title track sounds remarkably like a drum machine modulating a vintage analog synth via vocoder… either that, or a drum machine recording with all “hits” replaced with keyboard sounds via laptop. all in all, nothing terrible at all but by the same token, nowhere near as inspiring as his far more popular duo project mentioned above.
Dead C – “Trapdoor Fucking Exit”: to clarify, I believe this is the re-released version that also includes the “Helen Said This” LP. going back to this band after many long years, I continue to remain equally intrigued and mystified about the apparent reverence held for them in indie circles. they are constantly touted as heroes and inspiration to everyone from the likes of indie dinosaurs Sebadoh and Pavement to “post-rock” forebears Bardo Pond and Labradford. granted, I have by no means heard their entire catalog. but while there are some good songs here, the only resemblance I can see to any of their supposed luminaries is a slight resemblance to Sebadoh‘s seemingly haphazard writing and recording habits. and I guess one could see the droning final minutes of “Bury (Refutatio Omnium Haeresuim)” as a precursor to Labradford‘s habits. but more than anything, I think what keeps me from enjoying this as much as I otherwise might is simply the lo-fi aspect of the recording quality. that “style” has it’s charms, but for me it is more often a distraction than a point of commendation, regardless of how supposedly “legendary” a band or recording may be.
Swans – s/t ep: going all the way back to the early 80s for this one, this is the Swans before they adopted the Goldflesh-inspiring sludge rock of later early efforts like “Cop”. here in an early formative stage, they still had a lot more in common with the post-punk/no-wave NY noise scene that spawned them. which is to say that it was equal parts Joy Division and early Sonic Youth, bearing far greater resemblance to Gira’s earlier band Circus Mort. hardly indicative of the directions they would pursue later, and perhaps all the more interesting (to me, at least) because of it.
Kataklysm – “In the Arms of Devastation”: what else is there to say about these guys that hasn’t been said already? elder statesmen of Canadian death metal, perhaps just death metal in general, etc… and although I’m a little late to it, what we have here is another fine effort from them that dropped last year. nothing particularly flashy or techinical, just straight-forward solid death metal with a few twists and turns (i.e. keyboards, a few old-school Morbid Angel style riffs). like I said earlier, what else can I say? another great record from a longstanding band. I’m able to refer to them as “longstanding” for a reason, after all.
Car Bomb – “Centralia”: I think I see yet another CD in my near future. to make a long story short, Car Bomb takes the tech-grind that was more or less pioneered by Dillinger Escape Plan to a whole new level. after this year’s extremely disappointing and boring nu-metal effort from former home-country tech-grind heroes The End, it’s nice to hear a band that’s sticking to the… um, plan.
The Hidden Hand – “The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote”: another solid effort from doom hero Wino with his latest band. depsite the more political leaning of the lyrical content, this is still essentially Wino doing what he does better than anyone else regardless of what band he’s in – good, heavy, soulful doom-tinged hard rock.
Harvey Milk – “The Singles”: another band I’d never heard prior to this, I can now understand why heavy music fans like them so much. in a nutshell, most of the songs here sound like early Melvins – at times more and at times less conventional than such a comparison would imply. considering it is a collection of tracks released in a format suggested by the title, it’s surprisingly cohesive as a whole, though a progression is still somewhat obvious from beginning to end. apparently these guys toured with Godheadsilo some time in 1996 – I saw Godheadsilo live that same year (on a bill with Six Finger Satellite and June of 44), yet I never heard of Harvey Milk until last year. evidently that type of obscurity plagued the band throughout their actual time together, effectively making them another one of those bands who were so ahead of their time that most of their fans were probably gained after they were gone. unfortunate for them, but regarding my own discovery of them I can only say: better late than never.
R.I.P. Charles Gocher
according to windbag know-it-all indie revue site pitchforkmedia.com, Charles Gocher – percussionist for Sun City Girls – passed away this past Monday after a long battle with cancer. Sun City Girls have been longtime favorites of mine – their “Kaliflower” LP was like an epiphany for me back in high school. that album’s track “and so the dead tongue sang” even spawned the title of my own first radio show (“the dead tongue virus,” on good ol’ CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph, Ontario).
hopes are that the group will continue on in some fashion. but like any such occassion, the loss of a member of a favorite band – last year’s loss of Laughing Hyenas‘ Larissa Strickland comes to mind – is never happy news.
R.I.P. Charles, condolensces to the Bishop brothers.
Kiila – “Silmat Sulkaset”: I was going to wait til the end of the day to post anything but this album is too good to sit on. psyche-folk weirdness from Finland, my only real frame of referrence for Kiila‘s sound is the excellent “Forest” album by their fellow countrymen Circle. female vocals, various types of drums and wind instruments… according to what little info I dug up some of the songs were pre-written and some improvised in studio. in some cases it’s easy to tell the difference – case in point, the second track “Auringonlunta” which was clearly pre-composed. in other cases, the line is blurred between structure and improv. apparently this album signaled a change in direction for the band (going from two members to seven members, for instance) and they have a website still under construction… but I digress. I think there might be another new CD in my future, assuming it’s still in print and I can find a copy 🙂
Kommunity FK – “The Vision and the Voice”: see, now this is the kind of goth I like. the stuff that came out for the most part in the 80s, when it was more post-punk or “batcave” and less drama queen posturing. which is not to say that the 80s didn’t have their share of dramatic goth bands (Sisters of Mercy anyone?), but even that was more “high-brow” and less thinly-veiled-metalhead, woe-is-me whining. anyway, enough ripping on modern day “goth” culture. getting back to the point, this album is pretty much exactly what I look for when I dig up older goth bands: fairly straight-ahead songs that convey a more honest sense of gloom when they go in that direction, as opposed to contrived “depression”.
Tall Dwarfs – “Hello, Cruel World”: having never actually heard this band before (cut me some slack, the odd thing does escape my notice for whatever reason) I had no idea what to expect before this started. I knew more about them trivia-wise (i.e. they put out records on Homestead and have been around in one way or another since the late 70’s) than I did about what they sounded like. within 15 seconds of opener “nothing’s going to happen,” visions of Jad Fair/Half Japanese and Beat Happening were dancning through my head. turns out I was pretty accurate since Tall Dwarfs are apparently equally regarded as forefathers of the whole lo-fi/indie aesthetic. with two members things are usually fairly minimal and drumless, mostly catchy guitar/bass/vox ditties… like others of their ilk though, there’s the odd track where the Casios are broken out and/or things take a slight turn toward the experimental. “canopener” – my favorite example of this side of the group – appears at about the halfway point. apparently this is something of a “best of” collection of their first 8-10 years together, which might go a long way toward explaining why it’s good all the way through – after all, this type of collection usually tends to trim the fat and go for the highlights. but with this being my only exposure to Tall Dwarfs, for all I know maybe all their stuff is this good.
Unrest – “Imperial F.F.R.R.”: containing the classic “yes she is my skinhead girl”… oh fuck it, you find something new to say about this album. anyone who knows anything about anything indie-fork knows how important this band/album were. this along with Eggs “Exploder” have been fueling a bit of Teenbeat nostalgia on my part this past week or so.
Autopsy – “Severed Survival”: and now for something completely different… at least as far as my listening choices for today are concerned. another old-school classic, this time of 80s death metal. in fact, it’s almost hard to call this death metal. it’s almost like a slowed down crossover band with an early take on the whole cookie-monster vocal approach (i.e. doing it for real instead of using a modulated pitch-shifter, if you can imagine… hehe). oh and you want to talk about down-tuned instruments? these guys were probably doing it before most… you can almost hear the strings flapping wildly at the merest pluck and the drums sound cardboard-ish probably more because of loose skins than anything else (loose skins – *snicker*). still a classic nonetheless – perhaps less so than “Mental Funeral” but for whatever reason, I always had a soft spot for this record over that one.
Otomo Yoshihide’s New Jazz Quintet – “Flutter”: despite the pedigree of musicians involved here, this didn’t exactly blow me away. I’d likely enjoy it a lot more without Merzbow‘s contributions, which I’m guessing to be the annoying HF sine waves that intrude throughout an otherwise enjoyable enough recording. maybe I’m just missing the point of his involvement in this?
Afrirampo – “Kore Ga Mayaku Da”: now this was a pleasant surprise. all I had heard from these girls prior to this was their collaborative release with Acid Mothers Temple which, frankly, was a little underwhelming. hearing them on their own puts them in a completely different light. the first track alone, “I Did Are” is a 13 minute long piece, though it sounds like several shorter pieces played back to back. vague impressions of everything from metal to punk to rockabilly to no wave rear their heads while the vocals bring to mind some of our other Japanese favorites. and that’s just the first track. I don’t think I’m even doing this justice as it’s actually quite incredible. I see a new CD in my future 🙂
Amps for Christ – “The People At Large”: I sat on this one for a while. I had originally grabbed it because in the back of my mind I knew it was an offshoot of Man Is The Bastard. that said, MITB’s first offshoot Bastard Noise was pretty accurately named from what I recall, so I was fearing a repeat of my Government Alpha experience with this album. then I looked up their allmusic.com bio: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:sq60tr4qkl2x and realized that the only thing I’d been right about was the Man Is The Bastard connection. “Polyethnic folk” they call it and I couldn’t think of a better term to describe it myself. 20 odd tracks with everything from acoustic guitars to sitars and even (mercifully) short bursts of the type of noise I had actually been expecting. all with a nice hazy, slightly “stoned” vibe to it (even if unintentional). what can I say, it’s nice to be wrong once in a while – leads to a few nice surprises here and there.
Satanic Surfers – “666 Motor Inn”: on the other hand, being wrong about things doesn’t always lead to pleasant surprises. case in point: I was familiar enough with this band by name (who could miss it?) but had always been under the impression they were an Estrus-like entity, a la Phantom Surfers, Mummies et. al. I mean, the person I got it from had it catalogued with a bunch of other “psychobilly” type bands and even looked like a “psychobilly” fan in the pic on her profile. so when the first tune started and I thought someone had replaced the songs on my mp3 player with some NOFX or Screeching Weasel, it was a nasty shock to say the least, considering I hate both bands as well as pretty much every single imitator either of them ever spawned. I decided to give it a chance, but by the fifth song in it was pretty apparent that this was cookie-cutter thrashy pop-punk – the kind of stuff skaters probably jizz themselves over. yawn. on the brightside, the sheer suckiness of this bought me more time to listen to Afrirampo again 🙂
Ghost – “In Stormy Night”: I can just hear the comments: “ah, finally this loser is talking about something current”… well Ghost‘s new release is a very mixed bag for me and somewhat of a disappointment for a band I usually enjoy a lot. for starters the second track, a 28-minute experiemental/noise jam called “hemicyclic anthelion,” completely derails the flow of what you’re expecting from the opening track. said opener “motherly bluster” harkens back to the band’s classic “Temple Stone” release and that album’s transcendant masterpiece “guru in the echo;” as does album closer “grisaille.” the two middle tracks aren’t bad or unenjoyable per se, but are both pervaded by a lot of goth-like chanting that get’s a little too close to “spooky evil” territory for my liking… and penultimate track “caledonia” sounds just a tad too much like a screamo-vocalist-with-megaphone hopping onstage with a band playing Irish drinking songs or something. long story short, the album starts and ends on very high notes, but goes all over the place in between in a way that ultimately doesn’t flow very well. not terrible per se, just not completely my cup of tea.
Ui – “Sidelong”: revisiting albums you first heard 10 years ago can be an odd thing. I recall finding Ui‘s two-bassist + drummer + sprinklings of other instrumentation novel and innovative at the time and, for the most part, it has aged well. but by the same token, you can’t help imagining Sasha Frere-Jones hearing this now and having the same feeling most musicians do when hearing stuff they recorded years ago, and even empathizing a little. overall “Sidelong” still maintains some solid grooves and shows the seeds that were planted for the progression the band made on subsequent releases. closing track “Johnny” could still end a few minutes earlier than it does, but otherwise this is a record that’s very much of it’s time, yet still holds up today.
Warhorse – st: so I was in a bit of a doom mood after listening to Weedeater and these guys turned out to be the perfect thing to follow up with. long sludgy tunes, a couple clocking in at over 10 minutes, with fairly barebones yet oddly psychedelic shorter instrumental passages peppered throughout. probably not something that would be good to listen to if I were already depressed, but thankfully today I wasn’t. we’ll see if it stands up to repeated plays, but initial listens sound promising.
Motor Totemist Guild – “City of Mirrors”: I’ll have to warn anyone who’s not seriously into prog to stay away from this one. which is not saying anything bad about it, just that it proves to be a bit of a listening endurance test even for me, which is saying something. actually, it’s mainly the 28-minute “Bixby Slough” that’s tough to sit through. the rest of the tracks are shorter, with memorable hummable parts and lots of jazzy prog goodness. even the kids were dancing to it, one of them pretending to play trumpet during parts of “Narcotic Lollipop”. for any fans of prog or Zappa who haven’t discovered the Cuneiform/ReR artists, this would be a good place to start in familiarizing yourself with that scene, along with 5UU’s and U-Totem (which, as the name suggests, is a collaboration between the ‘Guild and the UU’s).
Weedeater – “16 Tons”: I’ll keep this one nice and simple: I like Eyehategod a lot. Weedeater sound a lot like Eyehategod. therefore, I like Weedeater a lot too 🙂
Linton Kwesi Johnson – “Forces of Victory”: I first heard this record years ago, IIRC it was in the library at one of the community radio statons I volunteered at. in a nutshell it’s politically charged reggae by a poet who never really aspired to be a musician in the first place. regardless of whether or not the political messages carry any resonances in today’s world is for someone else to debate… but for my own part, I get a kick out of hearing a mellow reggae song with the chorus “we’re gonna smash their brains in… cos they ain’t got nothing in ’em” (in the track “Fight Dem Back”). not much more to say than that really – it is what it is and for the most part, you either like reggae or you don’t. it’s a once in a while thing for me, but that song alone will make it worth coming back to when I’m in de mood, mon 🙂
Lubricated Goat – “Psychedelicatessen”: if you’ve read my “pages” you know I’m a huge fan of the late 80s/early 90s noise rock scene that centered around bands on labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Touch & Go; up to and including bands that are doing stuff today on Load Records. and depsite the fact that I don’t think they released anything on either T&G or Am Rep, I’ve always considered Lubricated Goat, along with Am Rep’s King Snake Roost to be among the finest examples of the “genre”… so that having been said, all the hallmarks of the “genre” are present on this record: snarly, punk-tinged rock and roll with faintest hint of metal in some of the riffs, smart-ass and/or non-sensical lyrics and vocals more spoken or screamed than sung. one unique factor that reared it’s head on more than one Lubricated Goat album is the inclusion of horns on some of the tracks. on this album, the song “Stu’s” (named after band leader Stu whats-his-name, aka the guy who married Kat whats-her-name from Babes in Toyland) seems to feature drum machines and samples (the other tracks seem to have a live drummer) which, coupled with the horns and “orchestra stab” sounds, give the impression that Stu was an admirer of Jim Thirlwell’s work at the time. overall, this is early noise rock at it’s finest with a few twists and turns that set it apart even from other bands who were doing similar things at the time.
Mayhem – “Pure Fucking Armageddon”: apparently recorded in 1986, I have to wonder why any band would purposely unleash such formative and poorly recorded material on it’s fan-base. despite the word “unmixed” being tagged to the end of many song titles here, it doesn’t sound like there was a mixing board involved at all – more like a boom box with built-in “microphone” in their rehearsal space. in amidst all the hiss and murk, you can hear the early formative stages of the brutal black metal that followed on the properly recorded and produced albums which followed it in the early 90s. I don’t know if this is a case of a rabid fan getting hold of some demos and distributing them via tape trading, or if the band itself actually issued this. I hope it’s the former because, aside from a money grab and/or gap-filler bewteen albums that took too long to record and release, I can’t see why any band would want to disrepect their fanbase by releasing such a poor quality recording.
Women of the SS – “Possession of the Matrix” 7″: back in high school I once purchased a picture LP by this… (group? artist? I’m not sure which)… at the time I was pretty heavily into industrial/noise and it seemed, I guess, like a bit of a novelty. suffice to say, the content is fairly sexual and usually BDSM related. so I found someone with a bunch of their releases yesterday and decided to grab a 7″ to re-acquaint myself. I’m not sure I ever found anything all that interesting in this particular brand of noise… but here’s the thing: one of the (or perhaps the only?) purveyor of this project is Debbie Jaffe. pictures of a person who I assume to be Debbie adorn the Women of the SS picture disc I own. once upon a time, in the 80s, Debbie was married to Hal McGee, the mastermind behind another 80s noise classic Dog As Master. now stay with me here. at some point in the later part of the 80s or the early 90s, they divorced. during the mid 90s, Hal got involved again with the whole tape-label thing, starting a new label called, simply enough, HalTapes. I was also involved in the scene at that time. so I corresponded and traded with Hal, among several other people like Brian Noring of FDR Tapes, etc… Hal often used some variation of his own likeness as the cover for his various cassette releases. anyway, long story short: this 7″ was most likely recorded/released during the time that these two were still married. it contains a track called “Tied to a Chair with A-Hole Licking” which consists of mid-coitus female moans and groans to a drone backdrop. it’s a little over a minute long. about halfway through, I realized that these were most likely recordings of Debbie Jaffe herself. then I remembered all of what I explained above. then I realized that if this was Debbie doing the moaning and groaning, that Hal was likely also involved. and then I looked at the title again. so read it for yourself – “Tied to a Chair with A-Hole Licking” – and then imagine that you know what the two people likely involved in the recording look like. it shouldn’t be hard to guess what kind of mental images followed that little epiphany. now what’s that sound Hank Hill always makes on King of the Hill? yeah, that one. not that I have any issues in principle with the activities described, but picturing the sex life of someone you know is almost never a pleasant experience.
White Mice – “Mouse of Mendes” ep: based on a track listing on White Mice’s website, I think I wound up with an incomplete version of this one. however, it’s more of the same amazing brand of brutal noise rock on their “AssphiXXXeatateshun” CD. these guys offer a pretty amazing synthesis of what it would probably sound like if Wolf Eyes and Lightning Bolt got together for a jam session. not much more to say than that, really. White Mice rule 🙂
Xysma – “Deluxe”: ok, let’s sneak in one more for today. haven’t heard this one in a long time since I only have it on vinyl and no feasible set-up for vinyl playback at the moment. coming back to it now after listening to so many of the “stoner rock” bands that came in its wake, it’s easy to see that it was ahead of it’s time in 1995. stylistically you can hear certain aspects leading up to the radical departure seen on their subsequent release, “Lotto”… in a lot of ways, this bridges the gap between that one and the precursor to this one, “First and Magical” (which is probably my favorite release by these guys)… here we basically have down-tuned stoner rock with the same cookie-monster vocals the band had up til this point and more of the organ/piano weirdness first heard on “First and Magical”… overall I’d have to say that in spite of the disappointing turn they took on “Lotto”, this is beat out only by it’s predecesor as my favorite of their albums. good stuff and a fun blast from the past.
Honor Role – “It Bled Like a Stuck Pig” 7″: clocking it at a whopping nine minutes, it’s like many other h/c 7″s of it’s era (1984) in how quickly it passes you by. I had a memory of this band having more of late-80s Dischord sound (i.e. emo before it got tagged as such and there were actually a few decent bands playing in the style)… waiting on a couple of their later albums, because I think they did actually progress in that direction. this is their first release though and it’s pretty much by-the-numbers mid-80s hardcore… nothing terrible, nothing spectacular. and it probably took me longer to type this than it did to listen to it.
Bonadge Fruit – “I”, “II” and “III (Recit)”: in my first post I was chanting a little mantra: google is your friend ad infinitum… maybe I should have said this: allmusic.com is your friend… allmusic.com is your friend… it actually helped me find out more than I knew about Bondage Fruit when I first started listening to them a few days ago. I found out about them via the info page on the Tzadik site for Rovo‘s “Tonic” double CD, where it mentions that Rovo is a Japanese supergroup of sorts, containing former members of Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba… and Bondage Fruit, among others. all of the other bands mentioned are favorites of mine, so I pretty much had to hear Bondage Fruit. and they are (or I should say were, since they’re no longer together) every bit as awesome as their musical brethren would suggest. their allmusic.com entry: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:7o220rjay48c~T1 describes them as “fusing together various musical styles from rock to experimental to ethnic”… which is a good part of the picture. it goes on to say that the albums get more aggressive as they go along, which is also true for the most part. the first two albums have the same supremely-blissful vibe as the Boredoms two masterpieces, “Vision Creation Newsun” and “Super Ae,” but take the tribal drumming from those albums and fuse it with more straight-ahead rock guitar in some spots. Bondage Fruit‘s incorporation of violin and vibraphone to the instrumentation also gives (gave) their material a slight feel of some Cuneiform/ReR artists like 5UUs and the like, especially on the earlier albums. apparently they became far more improv-based on the later releases, and that certainly shows in the progression from one album to the next. to summarize, I really don’t know how this band escaped my notice before now… but better late than never I suppose, since all 3 of these albums are fast becoming new favorites.
Demi Semi Quaver – “I” and “II”: what’s with all these old Japanese bands with sequentially-numbered, otherwise-self-titled albums? actually, that may not be entirely accurate in this case, considering the files for both albums are labelled “Track 01” “Track 02” etc with no “metadata” info, so I don’t have much to go on. a lot less on the web about these guys too. this is yet another band that is touted as having contributed members to Rovo in the same Tzadik description I referred to in the Bondage Fruit review, so in light of that it’s another band I was eager to hear. since listening, I’ve been trying to put my finger on a description for them. one of the few things I did turn up on a google search on them is another review, which more or less nailed it: not quite as chaotic as Space Streakings but a little more chaotic than, say Omoide Hatoba. one thing both albums have more of than either band is a more consitent solid groove as a backbone to all the chaos. oh, and a female vocalist. all of which adds up to some pretty enjoyable listening, if you’re into this sort of thing. even the kids were dancing to it a bit. of course, now I have to make it up to them by sitting through their favorite Puffy Ami Yumi songs for the billionth time… but Demi Semi Quaver will be back on the stereo sooner than later.
ok, I think we’re done for today… so unless I get a chance to listen to anything else later on, see ya next time.
Reck (from Friction), Keiji Haino and Pill from Lipcream – live: I grabbed this mainly becuase I’ve been on a huge Friction kick and saw Reck’s name mentioned… it’s a live recording. I’ve since found out that he and Haino are apparently playing together in a project called Head Rush. so I don’t know if this is a Head Rush gig, or them playing togehter before they gave a name to the project, or what. it’s dated Aug 17, 2002 and apparently took place at Housei University. I have no idea who recorded it, but it does sound like an audience recording. it’s encoded as two tracks, 41 and 57 minutes in length respectively and, for the most part, it kicks ass. it’s not actually two full tracks of those lengths – each track actually contains a set of 6 or 7 songs. and like I said, it kicks ass. it’s marred somewhat by the usual hallmarks of an audience recording: shitty, sometimes overloaded sound quality. but once your ears adjust to the quality of the recording, you realize there’s some good stuff buried in here. for a referrence to what it sounds like… well, if you’ve heard early 80’s/late 70’s Friction recordings, picture them slowing down a bit and playing much longer songs. if you’ve heard Haino’s solo recordings and/or work in Fushitsusha, picture him doing what he does there in a way that compliments what the rhythm section would sound like. if you haven’t heard any of these bands or artists I’m talking about, there’s no hope for you here… bottom line: now that I know there’s a name to a project these two musicians did together (i.e. Head Rush), I wonder if that’s the same band playing here and whoever I got it from hadn’t labelled it properly. I will definitely be searching for any Head Rush recordings I can find, because studio-quality recordings of anything I heard on these live versions will kick even more ass than this did.
part two, as it turns out, isn’t going to come today. I had a couple of Bondage Fruit albums to talk about, but I’m exhausted and want to give them another spin before I say anything else. I’ll say this much: both albums were pretty incredible on the first listen.
ok, here goes the first round of “reviews”. perhaps more appropriately called “me trying to sound witty while talking about what I listened to today”… I might eventually get ambitious enough to include links to labels and websites and stuff like that, but I just started this thing and spent a bunch of time typing up the “pages” so give me some time to ramp up on stuff like that. or just repeat after me: google is your friend. google is your friend. google… ok. anyway…
Acid Mothers Temple – “Close Encounters with Mutants” as far as Acid Mothers releases go, I can’t say this one is outstanding or anything I would consider a “must own” from them (for reference, my top 3 ACM releases that I own are “IAO Chant from the Cosmic Inferno”, “Have You Seen the Other Side of the Sky” and “Magical Power from Mars”)… I’ve been lazy about figuring out the chronology and discography for ACM and I honestly have no idea where this one falls. stylisitically it reminded me a lot of “Magical Power…” and while the latter is one of my favorite ACM releases (my introduction to them actually), this one just didn’t strike me as being “essential”… I might come back to it a couple more times to see if my impression changes, but the initial listen was underwhelming.
DJ eYe – “weirdo mix” I’m not even sure if this was a sanctioned release or a soundboard recording of some live thing or what, but one thing is pretty clear: even if it’s not something he does a lot of, Eye Yamatsuka should be making a lot of other DJs out there just give it up. granted, these tracks (two 25-minute-ish long sets) are a bit heavy on “the chipmunks do punk rock classics”, but when it gets away from that it’s brilliant. all kinds of juxtapositions of different genres and elements you’re pretty sure you recognize from somewhere but can’t quite put your finger on… a fun listen that I’ll no doubt be going back to. I think even the kids might enjoy parts of it 😉
Government Alpha – “Alphaville” I grabbed this because I remembered the name from the mid-90s heyday of the Japanese noise scene… listening to it reminded me why I never got too deeply into that scene. if you have the patience to dive into the patterns and intricacies of harsh noise produced via radio static vs harsh noise produced by other random sound sources through heaping amounts of distortion, more power to you. once upon a time, I had a bit of patience for it on that level too. today, it was a nice tool to block out other people’s annoying conversations at work and concentrate more on what I was reading on the internet.
Testu Inoue – “Datacide II” I can’t remember if it was this or the just plain old “Datacide,” but I remember the one community radio station I had a show on in the mid 90s getting one or the other and really loving it back then. I don’t know if I was revisiting or following up with this release, but in either case, you can pretty much take the Government Alpha comments and substitute all occurences of “harsh noise” with “ambient” and get the general idea. which, lke Government Alpha, is not to say this is anything bad… just nothing spectacular and not something I’m sure I’ll feel a need to come back to. I’ll probably give it another chance or two since releases like this sometimes tend to reveal hidden layers that I won’t have caught the first time around.
Clutch – “From Beale Street to Oblivion” Clutch are just fun. that’s all. there aren’t worlds of variation from one release to the next. they aren’t a band I obsess over or feel a need to have a complete discography of. but I always feel like I’m having a good time when one of their albums is on, even if it’s in the backround in some public/social setting or I’m just sitting here typing on my computer like the loser I am. I feel like I could see them live and recognize all the songs they’d play even if I have no fucking clue what half of them are called. “Power Player” “When Vegans Attack” and “Mr Shiny Cadillackness” are highlights for me on this one.
tttttttttttttttthat’s all for today folks. we’ll see if this “blogging” habit sticks.